New Computerized Record System set for MSHA

By Julie Fann
star staff

A new computerized record system Mountain States Health Alliance recently purchased through a contract with Siemens Medical Solutions will simplify patient record keeping at all MSHA facilities, including Sycamore Shoals Hospital, officials announced.
   Sycamore Shoals Hospital CEO Scott Williams said the system will provide a safer environment for patients by ensuring that their medical records are seamless.
   "One problem we often have is that we ask the same questions over and over to our patients. With this system, we won't have to be redundant. It is state-of-the-art technology," Williams said.
   The new system will use bar codes on patient wristbands to ensure the correct medications are being given and to check for any possible problems with other prescriptions.
   Illegibility of handwritten orders, a major issue leading to errors, will be eliminated.
   The program was chosen through a team-member based selection process involving more than 100 physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other clinical professionals as well as technical staff. The process took two years, during which Siemens provided information to determine that the company was the best choice to help MSHA make this major change.
   "We are proud to again take the lead in providing the highest level of service to our patients and their families," MSHA President and CEO Dennis Vonderfecht said. "A system of this level is found in only five percent of healthcare systems in the country and nowhere else in our area."
   At an investment of $38 million over a period of five years, the system will automatically alert nurses and doctors of a change in a patient's status, relay test results to nurses and create a communications system with safety checks to ensure caregivers are quickly aware of the results of their patients' treatments and tests.
   "Very few American healthcare systems have the level of clinical automation that MSHA will have as a result of our partnership," said Tom Miller, president of Siemens Medical Solutions Health Services Corporation. "Implementing the complete family of Soarian solutions, along with our other leading clinical offerings, will enable measurable process improvements through workflow redesign, improve communication among care givers, and ultimately help MSHA to advance their standards of care delivery."
   MSHA officials say the new system represents MSHA's continuing commitment to patient-centered care.
   While some other healthcare systems are announcing their own upgrades, such as Pyxis automated supply and medication dispensing stations, MSHA has been using this technology for years and is now going to the next level.
   "This provides for more efficient and accurate care delivery through the power of a truly integrated safety system," MSHA Vice President and CNO Kathryn Wilhoit said. "It allows a seamless transmission of patient information, care reminders, alerts and communications between clinicians, regardless of where the patient is located or previously received care across MSHA facilities. This improves the continuity of care in addition to continual improvement of the patient care work environment."
   Despite being one of the most information intensive industries in the country, nationwide healthcare systems are considered to be 20 to 40 years behind the information technologies used by services such as banks.
   This effort will resolve that issue for MSHA facilities, officials say.
   MSHA is implementing this program in part to have a major impact on the rate of medical errors which normally occur in medical facilities across the country. By keeping a single, linked network of information about a patient's medical treatments - from their medications to what types of physical therapy they are receiving - the clinicians are able to decrease the rate of medical mistakes from lack of coordination.
   "With medical research and recommended 'best practices' constantly changing, this system will be a tool to make available up-to-date expert medical knowledge to the clinician at the place and point when care decisions are being made," MSHA Director of Information Systems Richard Eshbach said. "The Advanced Clinical System initiative encompasses much more than installing new technology -- MSHA is embarking on a journey to transform the way health care is delivered."
   MSHA facilities include the Johnson City Medical Center, North Side Hospital, Johnson City Specialty Hospital, James H. & Cecile C. Quillen Rehabilitation Hospital, the Children's Hospital at JCMC, all in Washington County, TN; Sycamore Shoals Hospital, Carter County, TN; Johnson County Health Center, located in Mountain City, TN.; Indian Path Medical Center and Indian Path Pavilion in Sullivan County; TN; Blue Ridge Medical Management Corporation - operating the First Assist Urgent Care centers, ValuCare Clinics and numerous primary care offices.